The Cleveland Browns offense was ugly and the defense carried the day. That’s not something we could say early on in the Browns’ season when the team was averaging more than three TDs per game on the scoreboard. Well, now the Browns can’t run the ball, have a tough time finding the end zone, and their defense is carrying them. Granted the Oakland Raiders aren’t good, but a win’s a win’s a win. The Browns beat the Raiders on Sunday 23-13. It wasn’t even that close, but a garbage TD gave the Raiders an extra seven on the board.
The bad news? There will certainly be more and more Johnny Manziel talk this week. I don’t think there should be, but it’s going to happen. I can’t deny the fact that Brian Hoyer likely should have thrown two or three interceptions if the Raiders would have been willing to catch them. I admit that. Still, this isn’t a shocker. The Browns are supposed to be a team that runs the ball and they’re struggling to do it right now.
Maybe Johnny Manziel would be better than Brian Hoyer, but this adjustment to life without Alex Mack is more difficult than I ever could have imagined. Either that or maybe the Browns put enough tape on file that the gameplan is getting more sophisticated against their abilities. Regardless, the result is a whole lot of field goals instead of touchdowns.
Thankfully with a good defensive performance highlighted by Joe Haden, Tashaun Gipson, Paul Kruger, and even struggling rookie Justin Gilbert, the Browns got it done against the second winless team they’ve played in as many weeks. In a weekly contest of survival, the Browns didn’t look dominant or even good in a lot of ways, but they were able to pass the test in the “pass / fail” league as Mike Pettine described it.
It’s all a part of it for the Browns this year. They survive a week, improve their record to 4-3 while another week passes until Josh Gordon comes back. Brian Hoyer played better than he did against Jacksonville, and while he still looks like a shell of the guy he was when the run game was working, he was good enough. And that’s good enough for me right now. Try and win eight games and then we’ll see where the Browns are after that.
The Browns have Tampa coming next before traveling to Cincy. There’s still a lot to win and a lot to lose for this Browns team. Even after a rough-looking win, they can determine their own destiny. Will they continue to improve after the loss of Alex Mack? Will they continue to play on only one side of the ball per week or will they eventually put the whole deal together?